On June 6, Tuolumne County staff will present the proposed county budget. Recommendations include a substantial cut in funding Visit Tuolumne County, our only Destination Marketing resource. Following is the open letter to the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors from the Yosemite Chamber's board of directors.
You can voice your opinion by emailing all five supervisors at firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 2, 2023
Subject: Do Not Cut Visit Tuolumne County Funding
Dear Chair Haff, Vice-Chair Goldemberg, and Supervisors Campbell, Kirk, and Brandon
What other industry in Tuolumne County contributes even close to the amount of tax revenues that Travel & Tourism generates? What other industry provides even close to the amount of employment in this county (aside from perhaps the County itself) than Travel & Tourism?
Visit Tuolumne County has proven its worth with real results – increases in TOT funds and in additional tourist dollars spent on food, products from small shops, adventures, and other services.
It’s easy for our administrators to spot Visit Tuolumne County’s funding and see it is a major opportunity to plug other funding gaps, but it’s not the right solution for our tourism-dependent county.
Here are some quick stats from 2022 Highway 120 Chamber of Commerce membership:
● More than half of our business members are wholly or partially dependent on Travel & Tourism.
● Of those, 25% offer lodging/camping subject to TOT.
● Of those, 5 are lodging only (no food service); 7 also offer food service, and other revenue-generating amenities not subject to TOT.
● Only five of those lodging members have more than 10 employees.
● 34 are small non-lodging businesses in food & beverage, entertainment, outdoor adventures, and property management. Only TWO of those 34 have more than 10 employees.
These small businesses cannot afford the kind of marketing that brings visitors from all over the world to our Sierra playground. They can barely afford to stay in business. They depend heavily on the outreach and awareness provided by Visit Tuolumne County’s programs. In turn, their business results drive the success of other small local businesses who provide them with essential services such as insurance, financial services, commercial services and maintenance.
As new Highway 120 corridor resorts come online within the next three years, TOT funding will increase along with additional property taxes from developing those major pieces of land. That means more money for the General Fund and more visitors spending in our many other non-lodging hospitality businesses. We implore you to retain the current funding model for Visit Tuolumne County, attracting more visitors to our towns. Our livelihoods depend on it.
Yosemite | Hwy 120 Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors